10 Jun

– by Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty

Welcome to the new Unite Scotland website. This is a work in progress, so bear with us! Over the coming days, weeks and months we will be populating this site with all the latest news, views and events happening across Unite in Scotland and also the wider labour movement.

We want to try and do things a little bit differently here. Yes, it’s important that we are providing our members with the most up-to-date information but this all about interaction. Too many websites have gone stale at a time when new media has never been more influential. We don’t want this to be a corporate-produced website with fluffy content which is aesthetically pleasing but offers little. Nor do we want it to be a goliath of over-information where you can’t find what you are looking for.

Ideally, this website will be a hub for debate, a tool to curate a discussion and debate between union members and the wider Scottish left community. We want you to play your part on this website and view it as an extension of your workplace and community. The forums will soon be in place for you to shape debate and we hope you will.

We have to explore and maximise every possible channel of interaction between our members. Arguably, the need has never been greater or more urgent. We’re all in line to be impacted by ‘austerity’. It’s a bleak outlook for millions of people and their families: Higher taxes; longer working hours; lower wages; and higher household costs. Youth employment will hit over 1 million. Whether you’re employed in the public or private sector, it doesn’t matter.

When the dust eventually settles, the mantra that ‘we are all in this together’ will go down as one of history’s greatest cons because make no mistake, the race to the bottom and the drive to further erode trade union rights is shifting through the gears. That’s the burden to be carried on the backbone of our economy for the havoc wreaked by the greed of an unfettered corporate agenda and a weak political class. And while the squeeze of working people gets truly under way the perpetrators get off scot-free courtesy of their Con-Dem acolytes.

Scotland doesn’t escape this. The cuts agenda is passed via the Scottish Budget and flows through the local councils and into our communities. Cameron and Osborne are simply devolving the governance and responsibility of their ideological dogma to the most local level.

We need to fight back. However, while trade unions may well act as the fulcrum for this fight back we cannot succeed alone otherwise we will achieve and change little. And our motivation cannot be solely about defending the public sector or focus purely on jobs and terms and conditions. We certainly don’t have all the answers. We need to listen to what people across Scotland are thinking about work, politics and society and everything else in between.To do this, we need to get back to our roots and engage widely.

We need to reinvigorate our lay members in our communities and workplaces by giving them the campaigning, education and organising tools to tackle the cuts agenda themselves. Our collective contribution has to be part of a wider campaign for social justice that touches all aspects of our society in Scotland and beyond, with the support of organisations and individuals that shares our progressive outlook, and ultimately changes an economic and legislative system that has dominated the last thirty years with dire results.

But we cannot do this in the first instance without the participation of our members. We are trying to provide as many channels of communication and engagement for our members as we possibly can. So if you haven’t done so already, start playing your part by bookmarking this webpage and also join:

Check-in regularly for updates and let us know how we are doing. If we are holding events in your local area like our upcoming ‘Open Door’ Forums – then drop by and get involved. We’ll be delighted to hear from you and get your thoughts on work, society, politics, everything and anything.

Let’s face the challenges of today and the future together and unite for a better way.





Closure of NHS Scotland pension group ‘a failure of politics’

16 Jan

Unite Scotland members in the NHS have hit out at both the Scottish and Westminster Governments after announcing the closure of a key pensions negotiations body.

The NHS Pensions Working Group of the NHS Scotland Terms & Conditions Committee (STAC) had been in discussions with the Scottish Government in an effort to offset the impact of the Coalition Government’s pension’s cuts across the NHS in Scotland.

However, Unite representatives closed the working group earlier this week after the Scottish Government informed workers they could do nothing to counter constraints placed on them by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Gordon Casey said, “It would seem the Scottish Government were content to play politics with people’s pensions while the Westminster Government are determined to wreak havoc with them. 

As it stands NHS workers in Scotland will now suffer the same attacks on their pensions as colleagues in the rest of the UK – pay more, work longer and get less.

Unite refuses to accept Danny Alexander’s cuts agenda but we believed the Scottish Government had an opportunity to defend these pensions in the face of the Coalition’s austerity measures and we still do.

The NHS pension scheme currently generates £2 billion a year more in contributions than it pays out in benefits and Unite has refused to sign-up to the Westminster Coalition Government’s NHS pension reform agenda.


 Notes to Editors: For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer Gordon Casey on 07798531021 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Communications Unit on 07810157931.

1984/85 Miners’ Strike – Campaign for independent review of all convictions

14 Dec

Recently, you may have read media reports concerning the campaign being run by David Hamilton MP and Neil Findlay MSP. Its calling on the Scottish Government’s Justice Secretary, Kenny McAskill MSP and the Police to undertake a full and independent review of all of the convictions of miners arrested in Scotland during the 1984/85 strike.

This follows revelations that have come to light after investigations into Police conduct at Hillsborough and Orgreave. Unite is pleased that there has been a remarkable response from people across Scotland on this issue. It’s revealed the injustices working people suffered to protect jobs and communities, in addition to the deep-rooted anger that workers may have been wrongly arrested and convicted. 

We’re asking our members and the general public to strongly support this campaign.  You can do this in the first instance by visiting the campaign section of Neil Findlay MSPs website and send an email directly to the Justice Secretary and the Chief Constable of Lothian & Borders Police. 

It’s high time to recognise the errors of the past and give justice to the miners. 

Please show your support.

Scottish Government must intervene now after new Remploy closure

6 Dec

Unite Scotland has slammed this morning’s announcement that the Clydebank Remploy factory is to close at a cost of 36 local jobs for disabled workers and is calling on immediate intervention from the Scottish Government.

Remploy management at the West Dunbartonshire site, which manufactures textile components for the car industry, said the plant was ‘no longer viable’ and a 90 day consultation on redundancies will start ‘soon’.

Following last week’s confirmation that Remploy’s Springburn plant will close at a loss of 50 jobs, it’s another callous act forced by the UK government’s shameful ‘Access to Work’ scheme.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Lyn Turner said, “The UK government is landing blow after blow on the most vulnerable workers in our society and its clear they won’t rest until Remploy is obliterated, so the Scottish Government must intervene now.

Unite has called on the Scottish Government to follow the Welsh Government’s example and set aside a rescue package for our Remploy jobs –  it can be done swiftly if the political will is there.

Last week, we seen a passionate debate in the Scottish Parliament over Remploy and the Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing spoke about the ‘moral obligation’ of supporting these workers. 

Words come too easy, we now desperately need action.”


Notes: For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer for Remploy Lyn Turner on 07980871394 or Peter Welsh, Unite Scotland Communications on 07810157931.

Scottish Government must help now to save Remploy jobs

28 Nov

Unite has called on the Scottish Government to quickly make good on its earlier commitment to help save Remploy jobs in Scotland ahead of a third debate on the issue in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Thursday 29th November).

Unite is urging MSPs to put pressure on the Scottish Government to step-in with a rescue package that will support disabled employment across Scotland’s Remploy sites, using the example of the Welsh Government’s ‘Employer Support Grant’ (ESG) as a model of intervention.

In Scotland the fight to save jobs for vulnerable workers suffered a huge blow yesterday after it was announced the Remploy Springburn plant – the only Scottish & UK manufacturer of wheelchairs – would be closing after the DWP said a buyer could not be found.

Scottish Government Minister for Enterprise Fergus Ewing has visited all Scottish Remploy factories in recent weeks but with tensions in the workforce reaching breaking point following the closure of the Springburn site urgent clarity is now required.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Lyn Turner said, “Alex Salmond has previously said that Remploy ‘goes beyond being a supported business and a place work and the Scottish Government will do all it can to assist’. Our members need that help now. 

The UK Government is throwing these vulnerable workers on the unemployment scrapheap and the white knight buyer process has been a sham.  Without the intervention of devolved governance these factories will close.

The Welsh Government has shown that there is a better way with the creation of the ESG – a subsidy scheme established to help employers recruit Remploy workers made redundant throughout 2012 – and they have told us they would be happy to speak with Alex Salmond at the next meeting of First Ministers. 

Opportunities are there to save these jobs and it would be an unforgiveable failure of Scottish governance and politics if we don’t even try.”  

The devastating impact of the UK Government’s ‘Access to Work’ policy has already resulted in over 1,500 compulsory redundancies across Remploy and the closure of nearly two-thirds of its factories.


Notes to Editors:  For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer Lyn Turner on 07980871394.

Please see details of the Remploy ESG Paper (Wales).

North Lanarkshire Council Cuts – Think again!

23 Nov

A message to all our Unite members living and working in North Lanarkshire Council:

North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) estimates that it will need to save as much as £73.3million between 2013/14 and 2015/16.  In terms of jobs, Unite has been told that saving will conservatively mean the cut of some 1,400 jobs.

NLC has not sat down with Unite and other trade unions to discuss the best way forward and they haven’t properly engaged with the wider communities of North Lanarkshire, where this massive cuts agenda will hit the hardest.

Instead they carried-out a survey called ‘The Way Ahead – Lets talk about our future’ and asked the people of North Lanarkshire where the proposed £73 million worth of cuts should be made.

How many people completed this survey? Only 3000 – roughly 1% of North Lanarkshire’s estimated population of 326,000.  Not quite a majority of public opinion…

Furthermore, this fluffy rhetoric of ‘let’s talk about our future’ masks a sinister reality for many of NLC’s workers – one of jobs and pay cuts on a frightening scale.

Unite believes that:

  • NLC have completely undermined the collective bargaining process at a time where they should be holding meaningful discussions with the workforce in order to offset these cuts and sustain services the best we can.
  • NLC have abdicated their responsibilities, effectively pitting services and people against each other where the only losers will be the public and the workers.  And with the extent of the cuts that will be enforced there be will no winners.
  • NLC are playing politics with livelihoods and futures in a time of extreme economic difficulty. We need a concerted effort from all levels of politics to work with the workforce and public to re-think these cuts.

We believe this process, brought about without any consultation with the trade unions, demands a collective response. 

If we’re going to have a debate on jobs and the services which local communities rely on, then the scope of that debate should be extended meaningfully to everyone with an interest or role in the running of NLC.

That’s why we’re asking NLC workers and residents to contact their local Councillor ahead of 6th December, when these cuts will be confirmed, and tell them to think again.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Click on this link to find your Councillor and Council Ward;

2. Click on the Councillor’s email address which will open a new email;  and

3. Copy and paste our campaign message Think again! into the email and send.

Be sure to put your own name on the email to officially register your opposition to the cuts.

Collectively, our hands are not tied.  We can all pull together for a future that works across North Lanarkshire. 


‘Urgent clarity’ needed over jobs as VION seeks sell-offs

19 Nov

Unite members at Cambuslang meat processing giant VION have demanded urgent clarity on job security after the Dutch-owned company announced it wants to sell-off its UK food operations this afternoon (Monday 19th November).

The Cambuslang site employs over 350 workers and is one of 40 UK sites employing a total of 12,500 workers – the majority of whom are employed in its pork, red meat and poultry divisions which are earmarked for sale.

Unite Convenor at VION Scot Walker said, “Unite will be approaching management imminently, both local and national, to get urgent clarity on the security of our jobs.

We’ve been aware of the speculation surrounding VION’s future interests for some time now although nothing was confirmed until today – the workforce heard through the same company sources as the media.

VION is a major employer in the South Lanarkshire area and losing jobs or being on the end of pay cuts in this economic climate is unthinkable.”


Notes to Editors: Notes to Editors:  For further information please contact Unite Convenor at Vion Scot Walker on 07985460943 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.

Local authority bosses ‘bottle-out’ of defending jobs and services

9 Nov

Unite has slammed officials at one of Scotland’s biggest local authorities today (Friday 9th November) after they left the future of some 1,600 jobs at the mercy of an online survey.  

North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) claims it needs to save up to £73 million over the next four years and carried-out a public survey via their website asking people where service cuts should be made in order to make these savings.

The survey, called ‘The Way Ahead’ and which also closes today, will be used by the council’s officials over the coming weeks and months to set-out a savage public sector cuts agenda.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer, Tam Connarty, said, “This fluffy rhetoric of ‘let’s talk about our future’ masks the sinister reality for many North Lanarkshire public servants which is one of jobs cuts on a frightening scale. 

NLC have completely undermined the collective bargaining process and are playing the worst kind of populist politics at a time where they should be holding urgent discussions with workers to sustain services the best we can. 

Instead, they’ve bottled-out of dealing with the big issues they’re paid handsomely to do and made the public judge, jury and executioner for the services they rely on and the future of workers who will rank among family and friends.”


Notes to Editors: For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer Tam Connarty on 07810157911.